Job Title: Market Information ManagerName: David Haines

Company: Mars UK

Professional Qualification(s):
10 O’Levsls, 3 A’Levels, BSc Economics and Politics

Degree studied at:
Southampton UniversityBrief job description. 
Managing the supply of all data and information, and analysing key trends to give actionable insight to the business.

My career so far…
1992-95 Strategy Analyst Shell International
Winter 95-96 Teaching Cricket Australia
1996-99 Senior Business Analyst/Business Trainer IGD
1999-current Market Information Manager Mars UK

What does your job involve in a typical day? 
The Confectionery market is made up of tens of thousands of products and keeping track of the dynamics of the market is my teams’ primary responsibility. Who is buying what, where, when and why? For example, how well is the MARS Bar selling in Tesco? Which promotional mechanics work best with the Independent Trade? Which new products are selling best, and why do consumers like them? Where do we see market gaps that our brands can potentially fill? Which pack types may consumers prefer now that weren’t even dreamed of only a few years ago?

How do we do this? Firstly we need data. Mars buys data from a number of sources. This needs to be aggregated and analysed. We work hard at making sure our systems can handle lots of data and that it is in the right condition to be looked at logically: for example by category, channel, pack to name but three.
And we do this because Consumers do not just buy a chocolate Bar or a bag of sweets: sometimes they buy a treat, sometimes they are looking for an energy boost, sometimes they want something to share amongst friends. They have different needs at different times and these are constantly changing. As a company we must respond to the needs of consumers: as a department we scour data to analyse the trends and provide answers to questions that our marketer’s and salesmen pose.

A lot of judgement is needed too. If it was simple to take data, analyse it and predict what would happen then we would simply produce exactly what consumers wanted. If only it were like that! But the market is very complicated and, despite the best financial or statistical models that we try to build, we also have to apply judgement. Talking to colleagues is vital to find out the latest news on Asda, the latest bulletins from improvements to factory lines, how we are developing new products. This knowledge keeps us totally up to speed and helps improve our judgement.

So what do I do?!

First things first – e-mail! I’m responsible for a team of nine that analyses the issues for Sales, Marketing, Finance and Senior management so any number of requests may have come in over night. I scan through these and action/delegate as I see appropriate. I must get these out of the way before meetings start. Voice-mail must be dealt with too – if a Salesperson suddenly needs a vital piece of information when in the middle of an account meeting it is vital that somebody can help. These requests come in all shapes and sizes and at any time…

Meetings take up a large part of the day. These vary widely: the early morning may see me presenting the current state of the market to the UK Directors with a specific focus on recent share performance. Following this I may be part of a team brainstorming likely opportunities in Convenience stores. Early afternoon and I could be helping out on a training course for newcomers to sales, explaining how they can look at the performance of their accounts and drive sales.

To give insight requires doing the analysis too. The team has specialists in different areas of the market and a lot of my time is with them looking at issues from the past, considering what would happen if we did x, y or z and predicting the future. We analyse, disagree, review, refine, challenge, present. No day, or discussion, is ever the same!

And nine people take a lot of managing too. Getting the best for them, and out of them, equals time, effort and understanding. This is always worth it, although not always easy to remember when the pressure is on to get out a key chart in double quick time!

What do like most about your job?
Managing people; working with interesting people; seeing change happen that I’ve been involved in.

What skills are required in your job?
Putting yourself in others shoes – when giving information you must work out how much and at what level of detail. Get this wrong and you lose your audience.

Equal affinity with numbers and people, at any level of detail or seniority.

Asking the right questions, and not always believing the answers.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
Read the Grocer. Talk to anyone you know in the Industry and ask them what they really do. Don’t believe everything you could read in the papers. Think about why you may want to join it: do you have a passion for food or marketing or making/selling things?